By  on January 4, 2013

Discussions with market and financial sources on fashion and retail trends last year raised some interesting ideas on what is percolating in the marketplace. The following are a few that were mentioned that could show some strong legs in 2013, with the impact of having everyone rethinking what 2014 could bring.

OVERSEAS FIRM TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Rakuten Inc., a Japanese Internet service firm founded in 1997, provides a B2B2C marketplace platform that is shop-centric, compared with competitors that are product focused. Three years ago, the firm decided to grow beyond its domestic borders and in 2010 acquired the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based for $250 million through Rakuten USA. Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer, said, “Because Rakuten’s e-commerce operation is a business marketplace platform, we act as a facilitator and, unique among our competitors, allow the individual businesses to customize their own storefronts on our site.” Look for, now in beta testing, to launch early this year, the latest U.S. direct-to-consumer site under Rakuten’s umbrella. In addition, Derek Wall,’s chief executive officer, said Rakuten will launch a Rakuten user ID early next year that will allow each holder to access any Rakuten-operated site anywhere in the world. Rakuten in May also led a consortium that invested $100 million in Pinterest. EBay and Amazon will still be megaplayers, but Rakuten’s B2B2C platform could be where the action is this year.

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